Which Iowa Counties Are (And Aren’t) Turning Out Big For 2018

Thousands of Iowans are casting their ballots every single day as we enter the final 20 days of the campaign. Democrats started out with a big lead, but it’s recently narrowed to what the party has typically seen in the past. We’re now at a pretty decent place to start digging into the numbers more (also see our previous post on legislative districts’ early vote). Republicans’ absentee request mailer caused big daily jumps for their totals over the past week, but that’s largely stabilized now. Looking back at the 2014 midterm early vote numbers is still comparing apples and oranges […]

Rod Blum Closes Ugly With Race-Baiting Ad

Rod Blum isn’t very subtle with his closing message for his reelection campaign. A new TV ad that appears to have started running today repeatedly hits challenger Abby Finkenauer for saying, “I legislate with my heart too much.” But it’s the first few seconds that will grab people’s attention and could cause backlash. Right after the ad shows Finkenauer saying the line on the floor of the Iowa House, an image of three heavily-tattooed Hispanic men pop up on screen over her: Blum claims that Finkenauer “put criminal illegal aliens back on Iowa streets” while the image of MS-13 gang […]

NextGen Launches Major Digital Effort To Turn Out Young Iowans

NextGen Iowa is launching a major digital advertising campaign that goes through the final weeks of the election, targeting young Iowans to encourage them to vote on November 6. The $162,000 online expenditure in Iowa is part of a national $4 million effort from the progressive organization that is focusing on youth turnout this year. The ad blitz kicks off on October 15 and is targeted at over 170,000 Iowans between the ages of 18 and 35. They will run on a wide array of websites, social media sites and video services, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, Hulu, Vevo, […]

Abby Finkenauer Breaks Another Iowa Record With $1.6 Million Quarter

In case you were wondering if the news could get even worse for vulnerable incumbent Congressman Rod Blum, you have your answer: it can. Abby Finkenauer, his Democratic opponent, will report raising a cool $1.6 million for the 3rd Quarter reporting period, her campaign tells Starting Line. That more than doubles her previous quarter’s haul of $765,000, which was already an all-time record for an Iowa Democratic congressional candidate for one quarter. It comes on the heels of several impressive quarterly reports announced today from Democratic challenger candidates from around the country. Both Amy McGrath in Kentucky’s 6th District and […]

Democrats’ Digital Ad Strategy Lagging Behind Republicans’ In Iowa

Earlier this year, Facebook began making public every political ad that is run on their platform as part of their effort to create a more transparent process following criticism of Russian influence in the 2016 election. You can now easily find every ad deemed “political” in their Ad Archive, including those currently running, by searching for any candidate’s name. Starting Line pored over every ad run by or about Iowa’s statewide, congressional and state legislative candidates. One consistent theme stuck out: Republicans are running far more creative and comprehensive ad campaigns designed at both persuasion and rallying their base; Democrats […]

Poll Shows Trump’s Trade War May Sink His Closest Iowa Ally

When Donald Trump visited Iowa in July this year, he tossed “Make Farmers Great Again” hats into a crowd outside Dubuque and thanked Congressman Rod Blum for support of his agenda. Blum responded by praising Trump’s handling of the trade wars and tariffs. “Thank you for having political courage to renegotiate these trade deals,” Blum told Trump. “You’ve taken some heat for it in the short-term, but in the long-run, the farmers, the manufacturers, the employers are all going to better off.” As we suspected at the time, Blum may come to deeply regret those words. An ongoing poll from the New […]

Federal Funding For Cedar Rapids Flood Wall Is Not As Advertised

The $117 million in federal funding for the Cedar Rapids flood wall is not as was originally publicly promised, Starting Line has confirmed from multiple sources. Last month, city leaders were informed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that $41 million of the federal funding that was announced in July will instead be a low-interest loan that the city must repay over 30 years. That would present a significant increase in costs to the city to build the wall needed to prevent against future catastrophic floods. Mayor Brad Hart and City Manager Jeff Pomeranz wrote to Congressman Rod Blum […]

How Not To Deal With The Press, A Rod Blum Example

Congressman Rod Blum does not seem to like reporters. Like, he really, really does not like them. At least that’s the case for two Iowa reporters that Blum has clearly built up a hatred for after they asked him tough questions or ran investigative stories on his businesses. He lashed out at both this week, in one case creating a negative story for himself out of nothing. The first incident wasn’t that big a deal, it just highlights how he holds grudges. On Wednesday, Blum lashed out at KCRG and their reporter, Josh Scheinblum, who inadvertently gave Blum his most […]

Abby Finkenauer’s First TV Ad Recalls Days When Politics Didn’t Divide

Abby Finkenauer will launch the first TV ads of the general election in Iowa’s nationally-watched 1st Congressional District race this Tuesday. Her first spot on the airwaves is called “Dinner Table” and focuses on a spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation. The ad begins with Finkenauer describing a typical Saturday night with her family while growing up: talking politics around the dinner table after getting back from church. “We didn’t all agree,” Finkenauer says. “But nobody walked away angry, or not family anymore. That’s how it should be – at home, and in Congress.” She goes on to explain that she’ll […]

The State Of Iowa Races Three Months Out

Iowans will head to the voting booth three months from today on November 6 to vote in one of the most consequential elections in the state’s history. How are each of the major contests shaping up at this stage, two months after the primary and following a relatively quiet summer? Democrats have been optimistic about the chances of a “blue wave” this year, but many still held on to a good deal of skepticism given Republicans’ dominance of recent Iowa elections. Donald Trump won counties in 2016 that Republicans hadn’t carried in decades. Would things really flip back to blue […]